Re: Physics World: The CERN Gold OA initiative

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 10:33:25 +1100



I am really worried about your comment that libraries need funding bodies
to be in partnership (your words) to make the transition to pay
reader-side publication fees. In my view, this is entirely a library
issue of how to fund the university&#8217;s research, or so I would say
if I were still a senior university executive or on a finding body. Go
change your research journal support policy (aka acquisitions policy,
though now obviously misnamed).


Arthur Sale

University of Tasmania



From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Paul Ayris
Sent: Friday, 9 March 2007 5:46 PM
Gold OA initiative



As Director of Library Services in a research-led University in the
United Kingdom, may I offer an observation from the perspective of an
active academic library? I agree with David that the move to gold OA will
depend on the subject area under discussion. In particle physics, I take
the point that the majority of research publications are concentrated in
a discrete number of journals. In this context, it seems to me that a
move to turning library journal subscriptions into payments to an OA
consortium for journal publishing is a model worth considering. However,
I agree with Stevan that this is probably not a scaleable model, but I
suggest that at this time it is worth trying in discrete subject areas.

As a University Librarian, my concerns are these: once commercial journal
subscriptions are turned into a consortial payments for OA publishing, I
would have no more money to give to the consortium should its costs
increase. So the consortium will have to manage its costs with great care
in order for libraries to support them. Otherwise, libraries are no
better off than they were in the commercial subscription environment,
when we could be presented with large increases in costs with no
concomitant ability to meet these costs.

My second concern over the Cern experiment is this. I am still unclear
what the responsibility is for libraries to meet publishing costs in the
new Cern model (turning journal subscriptions into a payment to the new
consortium to support OA journal publishing) and the responsibilities of
funding bodies to support new models. Until subscription journals turn
onto OA journals, libraries will STILL have to pay the subscription costs
for these journals. It is the transition period which concerns me.
Surely, funding bodies should be asked to fund the transition. Then, when
libraries can safely convert journal subscription costs into a consortium
payment for gold OA publishing, libraries can make the requisite changes.
It is the researcher that libraries must support. And, until the model
has flipped from publishing in subscription journal to gold OA journals,
libraries will have to work in a hybrid environment where both models

Libraries need to support their academic researchers and to be champions
of change. They do the former very well. They can also do the latter, but
I suggest only when the model has changed. In the transitional phase,
there are two sets of costs: commercial subscriptions and separate OA
payments. What I am suggesting is that it is only through partnership
with funding bodies that libraries can help move from a commercial
subscription model to an innovative OA publishing model envisaged by
Cern. We are not there yet, but we could be if the partnership works.

Best wishes,

Paul Ayris
Director of UCL Library Services and UCL Copyright Officer
UCL (University College London)

At 17:09 08/03/2007, David Prosser wrote:
I agree with most of what you&#8217;ve written, especially about the
urgency of mandates.  Where I still disagree is with the idea that we are
losing focus by also exploring gold models.  In the field that CERN
covers they have 100% (or almost) open access.  I think they should be
free to now look at ways in which they can fund gold OA.  I do not
believe that they are beholden to promote green OA in other subject areas
(over and above what they are already doing, which is significant). 
Also, their model predicts that a funded gold OA model in particle
physics will be cheaper than the current subscription model.  (See
)  So, for an investment now (the &#8216;double payment&#8217;) a
transition could free-up funds for research.
You make the point that this model will probably not scale to all
journals.  That&#8217;s true, but it doesn&#8217;t have to &#8211; all it
has to do is work for this community.  The Science/Nature model (large
number of personal subscribers and significant advertising revenue in
addition to institutional subscribers) doesn&#8217;t scale to all
journals either, but it is a valid business model.  Again, it is not the
responsibility of particle physics to develop a model for all journals.
So, should CERN being doing more to promote green OA in other subjects
&#8211; I don&#8217;t think that we should expect them to do more that
they already do.  Is the CERN gold experiment damaging to research? 
Well, it might free-up funds and so benefit research.  Does the CERN
experiment delay the day that we get 100% OA?  I really don&#8217;t think
so, although we may disagree on that!
Best wishes
David C Prosser PhD
SPARC Europe
Tel:       +44 (0) 1865 277 614
Mobile:  +44 (0) 7974 673 888
Received on Sat Mar 10 2007 - 00:24:44 GMT

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